The Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Maps can be difficult to understand. We use these to decide how you can use or develop a property. Our planning commissioners go through extensive training using the Zoning Ordinance. We’re all capable of making mistakes. That’s why we have this opportunity to review their decisions.
Code Interpretation is a checks and balance system. They make sure decision from the Planning Commission and Planning Director are fair. When a decision on development or use of property is made, you can request a code interpretation. You’ll request a text interpretation or a map interpretation.
The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) reviews the code in question. The members then make a decision about whether this was fair.
Have the property address related to the request ready. If you’re not the property owner, get written permission from the property owner to apply. You’ll need to attach a copy of the written permission. Make sure it’s signed, dated, and includes permission to apply for Code Interpretation.
Review the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Maps(PDF, 15MB). You'll need to include the section of text you're referencing for this application. You can attach a copy of the highlighted language or map area if you like.
Prepare an explanation of what you think the purpose of this language is. We’ll ask what it means if the BZA agrees with your interpretation.
Be prepared to pay the $1,405 application fee. We accept checks, money orders and credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard and Discover).
Mail, email or drop off your application and documents to us using the information in the Contact Us section of this page.
We’ll review your application and contact you if we need more information. Once the application is complete, we’ll place it on the agenda of the next available meeting of the BZA. We’ll let you know what day and time we scheduled your application.
We’ll review your application and make a recommendation the BZA.
On the day the BZA reviews your application, you’ll speak to the BZA members. Our staff will introduce your application to the BZA. Then, you’ll present your information and request.
The BZA meets in the Public Hearing Room 201 on the second floor of our office. Find the address in the contact us section of this page.
After you present your case, members of the board may ask you or our staff questions related to your case. The board members will then discuss the case with each other in this open meeting. You’ll hear their conversation and reasoning as they discuss. Members have to follow rules for making interpretations.
Their decision for interpretations aligns with these standards:
- Is not specifically listed in any other Zone District
- Is generally consistent with the purpose of the Zone District and this Chapter
- Does not harm the use of other properties within the same Zone District or the neighboring area
- Has no greater potential impact on surrounding properties than those listed in the Zone District related to aesthetics, traffic generated, noise, potential nuisances, and other impacts related to health, safety and general welfare
- Is consistent with the Master Plan or other relevant adopted plans of the City
After the BZA makes a decision, we’ll send you a letter that documents this ruling.
You can’t appeal the BZA’s formal interpretation. However, you can seek a Text Amendment or Zone Change through the Planning Commission.